Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved spending $600,000 for a mental health program aimed to preventing suicide.
The funding of the MindOC program was prompted by “an alarming trend of suicide rates in Orange County,” said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett.
“Orange County has seen higher increases of people taking their lives,” Bartlett said, adding that the county’s teen suicide rate has outstripped the state average.
“This is totally unacceptable and we need to take action,” Bartlett said.
The county has also been struggling with suicide rates among veterans as well, Bartlett said.
“Roughly half (of suicide victims) have never had access to mental health care,” Bartlett said. “We need to do more.”
The program is aiming to create an “impactful campaign to engage the public at large so we can reverse this trend and save lives,” she said. “Simply put… we want all 3.3 million people in Orange County to be aware that if someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis we have the resources to help.”
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do noted that a “close friend of mine had a suicide in his family” recently, and, he added, “It was a tough time for all of us.”
Do said there is “still very much a stigma” about suicide, which discourages people struggling with mental health issues from seeking help.
The program will “effectively target parents and students to talk about suicide prevention and to talk about the triggers that lead to those thoughts,” Do said. “It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, it is a sign of strength and we are here to help.”
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